I love the Psalms and C.S. Lewis’s reflections are inspiring. This quote in particular makes you think. Jesus really did say forgive “seventy times seven,” which literally means as many times as necessary. Ouch! That’s a hard truth to swallow along with our pride.
So here are my thoughts on Lewis’s musings about how hard forgiveness is.
There is no use talking as if forgiveness were easy. We all know the old joke, ‘You’ve given up smoking once; I’ve given it up a dozen times.’ In the same way I could say of a certain man, ‘Have I forgiven him for what he did that day? I’ve forgiven him more times than I can count.’ For we find that the work of forgiveness has to be done over and over again. We forgive, we mortify our resentment; a week later some chain of thought carries us back to the original offence and we discover the old resentment blazing away as if nothing had been done about it at all. We need to forgive our brother seventy times seven not only for 490 offences but for one offence.-from Reflections on the Psalms
Seventy times seven to the tenth power seems to be how many times I must learn the lesson of forgiveness. I know how healing and freeing it is to forgive . . . until I forget.
1 Corinthians 13:5 says love “keeps no record of wrongs.” But when someone has wronged me I don’t much feel like loving them anyway.
Thankfully Jesus never said to His Father, “Don’t forgive them. I don’t much feel like loving them anyway.”
I’m currently holding onto an offence from last summer. I’ve reached the hard decision to forgive. Really, I have. But every time I am reminded of it, I record anew how I was wronged. “And she’s not even sorry,” I explain to God. She doesn’t even think she did anything wrong. Early on, He woke me in the middle of the night: “Pray for her.”
“You mean like David prayed for You to destroy his enemies in the Psalms?”
“No, not like that. Pray as Jesus prayed for you.”
So I did. And it has helped to heal the wound and free my mind from the trap of bitterness. Each time the anger creeps in again, I forgive a little more quickly.
Heavenly Father, Help me to forgive as You do, more quickly and completely, as You forgive me. Amen.